WFH, COVID Have Changed Business Travel, Bill Gates Says

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Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates said he sees big changes on the horizon for business travel once the pandemic is over, with drastic reductions for most companies now that people can work from home, CNBC reported.

Gates said he thinks the threshold for conducting business travel will be “very high” and that around 50 percent of it would be able to be eliminated, CNBC reported. And, he said he thinks over 30 percent of days spent in-office will be done away with for the same reason.

“We will go to the office somewhat, we’ll do some business travel, but dramatically less,” Gates said during a livestreamed New York Times Dealbook conference Tuesday (Nov. 17), according to CNBC. But he said it would likely vary depending on the company.

Gates said in a podcast called “Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions” that his own workdays have been simpler since the pandemic, with fewer travel days for work, CNBC reported.

Microsoft executives have predicted that air travel will eventually recover from its troubles, according to CNBC.

PYMNTS previously reported that business travel could be in trouble for the long term, with an estimate by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association of the world’s airlines, that the global rates of travel are not likely to go back to what they had been until 2024 at the earliest. With that, alongside companies fighting tight budgets, will come constrained corporate travel budgets.

Meanwhile, video conferencing, as a safe way to conduct business during the pandemic, has eaten into the need for travel.

Additionally, a survey by the Global Business Travel Association found that half of the 2,267 respondents said they would consider returning to physical travel for work, although they were unsure when. Meanwhile, 18 percent weren’t planning on resuming travel for now while another 19 percent weren’t sure.

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